Last month, Slate columnist William Saletan wrote a column claiming that despite reproductive rights advocates’ insistence to the contrary, most people who identify as pro-life really don’t want to eliminate birth control. “Pro-lifers don’t oppose birth control. They support it overwhelmingly. Three of every four people who regard abortion as morally wrong believe not just that you have a right to use contraception, but that using it is morally acceptable,” wrote Saletan. “That’s not my opinion. It’s a fact.”
Maybe that is a fact. The problem is that one out of four people who does believe contraception isn’t morally acceptable appears to be a lawmaker intent on writing policy to cut access off for everyone else.
The far right, knowing that birth control opposition played a huge role in their 2012 losses, has been trying repeatedly to revamp their image on the issue. It’s not birth control they oppose, they say, it’s just having to pay for it (despite the fact that it would be covered under insurance like any other health care service made a part of the plan you pay your own money to purchase). Or it’s not their own hang up over contraception, they just want to ensure that those who really oppose it — but not them, really! — don’t have their conscience rights trampled on.
It’s a front. The reality is, lawmakers, egged on by anti-choice constituents and religious leaders, want to end birth control access, and they’ll use any ploy they can think of. Here are examples from just this week:
1) Sean Hannity Says Pay for Your Own Birth Control and “Adopt a Woman“ While You‘re at It! According to Burnt Orange Report, the conservative talk show host was simply praising Mike Huckabee’s “women need to be liberated from their libidos and not expect Uncle Sugar to give them pills” Republican National Committee speech, but added a new ingenious twist. Not only should women continue to pay out of pocket separate from their insurance payments in order to get birth control, but they should also kick over some extra cash to cover poor women who can’t afford that, too. That’s a fantastic idea, Mr. Hannity. Someone should set up a program like that — oh, wait, President Nixon did and it was called Title X. The difference being that it was paid via a shared tax burden like all other beneficial government services.
2) All Your North Carolina GOP Senate Candidates Think Abortion Is Wrong, But Also That States Should Be Able to Restrict Birth Control, Too. It’s no longer enough to oppose abortion as a Republican candidate vying for a party nomination. Now, you have to be in favor of “personhood” bills that state life starts at the moment an egg is fertilized and must have all legal rights to life from that moment on. It’s a fairly terrifying thought when you consider how many who oppose abortion also believe that hormonal birth control in all forms, not just emergency contraception, is actually causing abortions. If a fertilized egg doesn’t implant, something that happens often in a regular menstrual regardless of if the person is actually using something to prevent pregnancy, they see that as an actual loss of life.
Of the four candidates vying for the Republican nomination for Senate, three believe that abortion should be banned in absolutely all cases, with only one candidate taking the “moderate” position that a rape victim should be allowed to abort or a pregnant person terminate a pregnancy if her health is in danger. But it’s the birth control stance that is the most radical. Every single one of them agreed that states should have the right to ban contraception if they chose to.
Ban contraception. Totally. Sure, they said they didn’t think a state should do it, but if it did, that’s 100 percent OK.
3) Virginia House Committee Votes Down Bill to Ensure Birth Control Access Can‘t Be Limited by Abortion Restrictions. It was such a simple bill. “‘Birth control’ means contraceptive methods that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Birth control shall not be considered abortion for the purposes of Title 18.2.” In other words, it was a bill stating that everyone agreed that birth control is not actually an abortion, and that whatever restrictions on abortion pass the legislature, contraception would remain untouched by them. It died in committee in a 4-3 vote.
Why would lawmakers be so adamant about killing a bill that simply protects access to contraception, and has no other purpose? There really isn’t any other possible answer except one. They don’t want to accidentally shut off a chance to ban access to birth control down the road.
Allegedly three out of four pro-lifers believe birth control is moral. Too bad none of them seem to be lawmakers.
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